Webquests Let Students Explore Independent Ally In Indianapolis Schools
The Indianapolis Public Schools Click Program
The Indianapolis Schools Click Program, a professional development program for teachers, helped teachers designed web based learning activities for students, called WebQuests. The Indianapolis Public School website offers a range of WebQuests, arranged by grade level (K - 2, 3 - 5, 6 - 8, 9 - 12) and subject area. Many of the WebQuests connect multiple subject areas. All the WebQuests are offered free to the Indianapolis Public School community in order to enhance student learning on a variety of subjects. They are easily accessed by clicking on the relevant grade level and subject area on the website.
What is a WebQuest?
A WebQuest is defined as an "inquiry based activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web." WebQuests are designed to focus learners on using information and support thinking on all levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students are given the exact location of the information that they need in the order that they need it in order to use the learner's time effectively. The model followed by the Indianapolis Public Schools was developed by San Diego State University in 1995. The WebQuests on the Indianapolis Public School website are best viewed with the latest version of Internet Explorer.
A Sample WebQuest About Dinosaurs
In order to see the creative and interesting uses for WebQuests, let's look at one particular example. This WebQuest was developed by an Indianapolis Public School elementary science teacher to help students learn about dinosaurs.
At the beginning of the WebQuest, there is a clear assignment: a pair of students is going to design a poster about one of the dinosaurs they learn about in the Dinosaurland WebQuest. In order to do this, they are instructed to print out pictures and type out important information. The Indianapolis Public School students will be judged on their correct use of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, bringing in a writing element to this science lesson.
The WebQuest provides students with information about Meat Eating Dinosaurs, Plant Eating Dinosaurs, and Fossils. In each section, the students are directed to look at information provided by various museums, including the Cyber Space Museum of Natural History and Exploration Technology, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and the Royal Ontario Museum. In addition to these professional sites, Indianapolis Public School students are also directed to teacher - produced websites that give details about specific dinosaurs in addition to graphics pages like the 3D Dinosaurs Pictures Web Page.
At the end of the WebQuest, students are provided with a detailed rubric for completing their poster. This rubric includes how many points the students will gain or lose for each part of the poster, including Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, Pictures, and Presentation. At the end of this rubric is a page for the Indianapolis Public School teacher to print out and complete with details about the student's work and accomplishments. In this way, the Indianapolis Public School student works almost entirely independently from the teacher to create and present a unique insight into the subject.
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Reading Comprehension Skills Part Ii
Do you remember that 'reading' means understanding the author's message, not just calling out words? If you cannot answer comprehension questions after reading a page, you have not truly read anything.
There are specific reading-comprehension skills that will help you understand what you are reading. Whereas my last article focused on Main Idea, Predicting Outcomes, Inferences, and Fact or Opinion; this article will cover Context Clues, Cause and Effect, Drawing Conclusions, and Sequencing. When reading with your children, be sure to ask questions that reinforce these comprehension skills, especially during summer vacation or other long absences from school.
1. Context Clues - When you are reading, suppose you come across a word that you have never seen or heard before. If you understand the other words, sentences, and paragraphs that come before and after the new word, you will be able to figure out what that new word means.
Example: Two friends met and had a persiflage over lunch. They talked about
seeing a movie, going shopping, or going to the beach.
Can you tell that 'persiflage' means light, frivolous talk? The two friends did not discuss anything of major importance.
2. Cause and Effect - We all know that actions have consequences. Think of the actions as causes and the effects as their consequences.
Example: The Miami Heat want the fans to wear white during the NBA Finals
games. As a result, the seats in the arena are filled with fans wearing White Hot shirts!
WHY are the fans wearing White Hot shirts? They are wearing white shirts
BECAUSE the Miami Heat requested it. When you ask a why question (the effect), you want to know the reason (the cause). Clue phrases that indicate a cause is to follow include 'as a result' and 'in order to'.
3. Drawing Conclusions - Sometimes you will be asked a question about
information that has not been given. There will be enough clues, however, for
you to imply the meaning.
Example: Marvin was exuberant that his parents were allowing him to stay up past his bedtime so he could see the fireworks at a nearby park. Luckily, there would be a great view from his own patio! The fireworks were scheduled to start at 11:30 PM but, by 10:30, Marvin was feeling extremely tired. When he woke up the next morning, Marvin asked his mother why the fireworks had been cancelled.
Although the information is not directly given, you can draw the conclusion that Marvin was so tired that he fell asleep and missed the fireworks.
4. Sequencing - As the old saying goes, "Put one step in front of the other."
When you are putting directions or events in sequential order, you start at the beginning and go step-by-step, in a logical or chronological order, to reach a conclusion. Young children just learning this skill begin their sentences with First, Next, Then, and Last; older children do not necessarily need those key words.
Example: She rubbed some oil on top of it. My mom went to the store and bought a chicken. Into the oven it went! Following that, she sprinkled some
seasoning over it.
As written above, this story does not make sense. Who put oil on top of what? Do you really season a chicken after it is in the oven? (Basting does not count!) The correct version would read like this:
My mom went to the store and bought a chicken. She rubbed some oil on top of it. Following that, she sprinkled some seasoning over it. Into the oven it went!
To review, then, there are specific reading-comprehension skills that will aid
in your understanding of the written word. A few of these skills are context
clues, cause and effect, drawing conclusions, and sequencing.
I hope these examples are useful and have inspired your own creative thinking.
And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!
Eleven Virginia Schools Divisions To Participate In Commonwealth Scholars Program
The Commonwealth of Virginia and Governor Timothy M. Kaine have for some time been encouraging Virginia Schools high school students to take more rigorous coursework. The Governor recently announced the pilot Commonwealth Scholars Program and promotional campaign to underscore this commitment to excellence in Virginia's youth.
Eleven divisions within the Virginia schools initially will participate in the new program. The required rigorous coursework goes beyond the minimum graduation requirements for a Standard Diploma, but falls below the college preparation coursework requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. Students who complete the core coursework under the Virginia schools program will be recognized as Commonwealth Scholars at graduation and eligible to receive a special diploma seal that recognizes their achievement. Instructional support will be provided to all students who participate.
A two-year, $300,000 State Scholars Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Education funds the Commonwealth Scholars Program. Virginia schools were one of eight states selected in a national competition to participate in the federal grant program.
The Virginia schools divisions were chosen based on their interest in the program and their ability to meet the requirements of the grant. The eleven Virginia schools' divisions are:
Do You Find It Difficult To Read Try An Audio Book
There are many people who love fiction, but can't read. Maybe you're one of them. Some people can't read for a physical reason - because they're blind or have bad eyesight, for example - while some find reading difficult or strenuous on a mental level, such as dyslexic people and children. If any of these descriptions fit you, then maybe you should try audio books.
Audio books are voice recordings of people reading books - they used to be called 'books on tape', but now they mostly come on CD or even over the Internet as mp3 files. They are a surprisingly versatile medium, allowing for everything from straight readings to radio drama-style productions of the books with actors and sound effects. Some are read by the author, which can be an interesting experience, especially for books of poetry, while others are read by celebrities.
The best thing about audio books is that it's much less effort to listen than it is to read. You can do other things while you have the audio book on, much like listening to music, such as driving or household chores. Audio books on long car journeys can be relaxing both for you and for children as well, as there are few things children love as much as hearing stories.
However, one word of warning. You should avoid any audio books you might find on the web that have been automatically produced by computer. The standard of computerised reading is not yet up to scratch for most purposes, and that's certainly the case for audio books - it's like hearing a robot trying to tell a story. The tone of voice is all wrong, the stresses go in the wrong place, and there's no sense of drama. It's difficult to even listen to for a long time, never mind enjoy. Until technology leaps forward (it'll probably take a few decades), stick to human-read audio books.
Las Vegas Schools Open New Schools And Hire New Teachers
New Schools Equal New Hires
Las Vegas Schools have ten new schools opening for the 2006-2007 school year. Nine are brand new schools, while one is a replacement of Rancho High School. This is part of a long term plan to meet student population demands and create modern facilities. The schools opening in August are six elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. The new elementary schools are Hayden Elementary, Schorr Elementary, Steele Elementary, Thompson Elementary, Ward Elementary and Wright Elementary. The middle schools are Johnston and Tarkanian and the high schools are the new Legacy High School and the replacement Rancho High School. All these new schools create the need for more teacher and support staff. With this in mind Las Vegas Schools is engaging in a very active recruitment process including holding a recruitment fair this summer to be held at the Desert Rose Adult High School. In the area of academic staff Las Vegas Schools are hiring over one thousand new staff and teachers. But academic staff are not the only ones needed to keep a school running. These new member schools of Las Vegas Schools are also in need of bus drivers, transportation aides, vehicle mechanics and substitute food service workers.
The New Rancho High School
The newest edition to Las Vegas Schools is the placement of the old Rancho High School. The new design may seem surprisingly familiar to the students. The new Rancho High School is based on the same design used in most suburban shopping malls. The new 330,000 square foot school was built on the site of the former schools athletic field. The old school will be torn down later in the school year. The new Rancho High School follows a two story mall design and the total building cost was around $75 million. The money came from the Las Vegas Schools $3.5 billion capital improvement plan approved by voters in 1998. The new design did cause a little concern but it actually creates a very functional and friendly space which can add to the success of a school. The Rancho High School principal plans to divide the school into four distinct sections each with its own assistant principal and student services. These sections will possibly be divided based on grade level or program type. Rancho High School is well known for its magnet programs that aim towards the medical and aviation fields. These magnet programs will have new offices and special facilities on the new Ranch High School campus. The ROTC will also have a new area. The Rancho High School ROTC is one of the largest in the U.S. and the facility will be able to accommodate over five hundred students. The Ranch High School replacement is part of a long term replacement plan by Las Vegas schools. The plan was to replace five existing schools Sunrise Acres Elementary, Wendell Williams Elementary and Rancho High School are the first three with Booker Elementary and Virgin Valley Elementary to follow.
Rancho High School is Second to Have Mall Design
Rancho High School is the second Las Vegas School to have the mall design. The first was at Buffalo and Grand Teton. The mall design creates a new and unique space that provides natural light and fresh air to the classrooms while creating a more secure environment than a conventional school design. Both the current principal and the president of the construction company building the new school are former Rancho High School graduates, who are extremely pleased with the modern replacement.
Pilgrim Trivia Teaching Tips
How much do you know about the Mayflower, Pilgrims, and Wampanoag Indians? Here are some interesting facts about them.
Before the Pilgrims hired her, the Mayflower was in the wine trade with France; before that, she was in the fish trade with Norway.
It took the Mayflower 66 days to reach Massachusetts.
There was one baby born during the crossing of the Mayflower and he was named Oceanus Hopkins.
The Pilgrims landed at Provincetown, MA, at the tip of Cape Cod, on November 11, 1620. Since the land was not good for farming, they moved to Plymouth.
To eat, the Pilgrims used a knife, spoon, a large napkin, and fingers...no forks. They also shared plates and drinking vessels.
In the Pilgrim household, the adults sat down to dinner and the children waited on them.
Lobsters, clams, and mussels were considered "hard rations" when the food supply was low. Many Pilgrims thought that lobsters were fit only for pigs!
The turkey was familiar poultry in England. It was brought to Europe 100 years earlier by the Spanish.
There were only four married women who survived the first harsh winter from 1620-1621. They supervised the food preparations for the three-day harvest feast for the 50 colonists, Chief Massasoit, and the 90 Indians who attended. That event became known as "the first Thanksgiving."
Pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce were not eaten at the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims did eat roast wild fowl such as duck, goose, and turkey; corn meal; cod; sea bass; and venison brought by the Indians.
Massasoit in the Wampanoag language means "Great Leader." His real name was Ousamequin or "Yellow Feather."
The Wampanoag Indians of southeast Massachusetts were the people who befriended the Pilgrims. Their name means "People of the Dawn" and they continue to live on Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and inland.
With the severe weather the world has been experiencing, now is a good time to reflect on all the positives in your life. Write them down to keep as a reference when times are rough! Sometimes, seeing them in print is an eye-opener; you might be surprised how long that list can get if you add all the little things. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone!
I hope these ideas have been useful and have inspired your own creative thinking.
And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!
Baltimore Schools Enrollment Down Schools To Close
With declining enrollment and building space for tens of thousands more students than they have enrolled, the Baltimore schools announced last December their restructuring plans to close several elementary, middle and high schools with others becoming combined K-8 schools.
The Baltimore schools held a series of community meetings, where they released a list of possible options they were considering. The options included schools to close, some to renovate, and where to build new ones. The options also were listed at their web site, where parents and community voted on which options they thought were best.
All options would close several Baltimore schools middle schools with consistently low test scores and high rates of violence. Some of these targeted schools are on the state's "persistently dangerous" schools list, while others are being watched closely for inclusion to the list. The troubled Thurgood Marshall High School, site of a shooting in the 2004-2005 school year, also is included in all options. A new building will replace the current middle school, located at the same site, and be a K-8 school.
The Baltimore schools are dealing with deteriorating buildings, declining enrollment, and state demands that they operate the school system more efficiently. The Baltimore schools' chief executive officer Bonnie S. Copeland stated that community committees, which used public input gathered earlier last fall, developed the options.
Copeland believed that much of the community shared her vision to expand the K-8 schools, which have been outperforming the traditional middle schools. Many parents, as well as community activist groups, were outraged and vehemently opposed several proposed options and school closings.
Many do not wish to see K-8 schools, unhappy with older children who set bad examples being mixed in with younger children. They believe the low test scores of several middle schools is more complex than just integrating the students with the elementary schools. Additionally, some high-performing schools could be closed, due to building conditions and capacity.
Many parents and activists believe it would be cheaper to renovate existing schools, rather than build new ones. David Lever, executive director of Maryland's Public School Construction Program, backs this belief.
In March 2006, the Baltimore schools reacted to public pressure and released a substantially revised plan, stating that they took to heart the public's concerns. The changes did little to appease the opponents of the plan, leaving the Baltimore schools caught between the state demanding a school closings plan and the parents and community activists.
After 85 public meetings on the topic and more than 10,000 participants, the Baltimore schools board voted at the end of March to close 16 Baltimore schools over the next two years. They also approved a 10-year, $2.7 billion plan to build 27 new Baltimore schools, moving thousands of children from middle schools to pre kindergarten through eighth grade.
Dominican Children In New York City Schools Face Two Edged Sword Of Difficulties
Residents of the Dominican Republic, especially the impoverished ones, have long viewed the United States and especially New York City as a land of limitless wealth. All you have to do is live there for a few years, and you too will be wealthy.
This erroneous vision was fostered in the 1980s with the crack epidemic centered in Washington Heights, an area located north of New York City and predominantly populated by Dominican immigrants. Thousands of dollars in cash were sent back to the families, who still lived in the Dominican Republic.
Though the days of easy money have passed, the Dominican poor still believe that, if only family member can reach the U.S. and remain for a few years, he or she could bring the entire family remaining in the Dominican Republic out of poverty. Thus, the Dominican Republic is the largest exporter of immigrants to the New York City schools. Dominican immigrants now comprise ten percent of the 1.1 million students in the New York City schools.
These young New York City schools immigrants face particularly difficult problems as they attempt to acclimate into American society. They face the pressures to integrate at school, while facing the pressures to remain the same at home. Parents too face challenges with the New York City schools.
The first problem is culture shock. In the Dominican Republic, children always must defer to their elders and hold their tongues, having no way to express their own feelings or opinions. In contrast, children quickly learn in the New York City schools that American children are vital members of society, like any adult. They realize that adults care what they think. They become more outspoken both at school and at home, finding the social freedoms compelling and liberating.
Parents feel themselves losing control of their children, who are shedding their cultural restrictions. They view New York City schools children as arrogant and flamboyant, with no respect for their elders. Such contrasting expectations between children and parents cause stress at home. Of course, many parents blame the New York City schools for their children adopting these attributes, where they did not wish to send their children anyway.
The Dominican immigrant home environment is not always conducive to learning. For impoverished families in the Dominican Republic, education is not a priority, as it is with the wealthy families there. Though early schooling is free for children, it is seen as a costly endeavor for families just trying to make ends meet. Clothing for school, meals, school supplies, books, and transportation are luxuries for such families. According to the World Bank, 13 percent of children ages 7-14 work outside the home, rather than attend school. According to Unicef, 16 percent of children ages 10-17 are illiterate. Usually, one or both parents have little or no education, due to less long-term educational exposure for children of poorer families. Is it any wonder they may resent the mandatory law for their children to attend the New York City schools?
Though cultural differences present a major obstacle, language is the biggest difficulty for these immigrant children in the New York City schools. According to Robert Mercedes, Principal of Middle School 390 in the Bronx and President of the Association of Dominican-American Supervisors and Administrators, Dominican children arrive at the New York City schools lacking the basic native-language skills of the Dominican Republic. This makes transitioning them into the English language even more difficult.
They feel like outsiders in the New York City schools. They are in a language and cultural isolation. They are generally dumped into bilingual classes at low-income schools, and feel more of a burden to the New York City schools than an equal to the other students. The victim mentality takes over for many of these youth, who separate themselves into close-knit ethnic groups. They are especially vulnerable to street gang recruitment, which pervades the areas around the ghetto-like atmosphere of some of the New York City schools they attend.
On one side, the New York City schools are a haven of new opportunities for the Dominican children and their parents. Yet, these same opportunities can be the downfall of the immigrant family values and the children, as well. It is a dual-edged sword, afflicted with stressful difficulties and insurmountable obstacles for many.
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